Whether you are a full-time graphic designer, a freelancer, or someone who’s interested in dabbling in design as a side project, it’s critical you create a sleek graphic design portfolio to showcase your work to potential clients. A graphic design portfolio is valuable in the current job market significantly more than a traditional CV or resume.
In the digital age, having a graphic design online portfolio will establish your personal brand on the internet for millions of people to access. It is typically the only element a client needs to see when choosing a graphic designer – which means a portfolio is vital for proving your skill as a designer.
Mistake #1: Skipping The Research Before Creating Your Graphic Design Portfolio
The very first step before showcasing your work through a graphic design portfolio is to do some visual research. Doing your visual research would help you generate ideas. It will also provide you with plenty of inspiration before starting your online graphic design portfolio.
Go through some portfolios and think about these things. Are they keeping their color scheme consistent or changing it up? How does their navigation play out? What kind of work are they uploading? What makes their landing page attractive?
Then take it a step further. What doesn’t make their landing page attractive? Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work that they’re displaying? Does it feel like something is missing?
Take all of these things into consideration. Compile a list of what you see in all of these websites, what features you want to be sure to add to yours, and what you want to stay away from.
Mistake #2: Not Developing Your Own Brand
What better client to work for than yourself? Develop your visual identity as a designer and use those assets as a way to add personality to your graphic design portfolio.
You could create yourself a logo, font, color scheme, illustrations, animations, tagline, and more. Think of it as developing a solid brand that can help introduce you to the design world.
As an extra bonus: adding these fun projects to your portfolio also highlights who you are (the human behind the designs). So, don’t be afraid to incorporate your interests and hobbies into your branding.
Read More: 5 Ways to Develop Your Personal Brand by Giving Value
Mistake #3: Not Including The Kind of Work You Want More of
Think about your target audience. Are they most interested in logo design work? Brand packages? Building a graphic design portfolio that centers on the type of client work you want to do will create a concise, focused presentation.
You may want to concentrate on finding logo design work or landing an in-house design job centered around social media ad design. Let your portfolio reflect that aim.
Why going deep is better than going wide
Going deep means that you focus your attention on a particular domain or field. By doing that, your skill level in that particular area will improve, and desirably over time, you will be the go-to person for certain projects.
Going wide means that you spread your focus across multiple areas, and try to gain knowledge from all of them. You will be more experienced in multiple fields, but you won’t have a high skill level in any of them. “Jack of all trades, master of none”, as the saying goes.
Think about it. Would you hire the same person to paint your walls, fix your plumbing, and install your hardwood floor, or would you hire three different people, each specialized in his/her domain?
Mistake #4: Going With Quantity Instead of Quality In Your Graphic Design Portfolio
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you should showcase your best work. That being said, it can be hard to determine what should be considered the best. After all, you created all of these designs, shouldn’t they all be included in your graphic design portfolio?
This one should be pretty obvious, but you would be surprised to find out how often people focus on quantity, not quality when it comes to the content of their online graphic portfolios. Do not overcrowd your portfolio; focus on the high-quality projects, not on the number of projects you can add to it.
Update your portfolio with your finest work only. Do not use outdated projects or projects which could use improvement. Presenting the development process is one thing, using a badly designed project you created in high school is another.
Mistake #5: Not Presenting The Story Behind The Work
A portfolio is as much about showcasing your design approach, process, and results as it is about the design itself. And without professional design experience, you may feel like you can’t accurately convey this kind of information. However, the secret is to get a little creative.
As you work on portfolio pieces, make sure to jot down your thought process and decision-making approach. This doesn’t have to include anything revolutionary, but it should provide reasoning behind your designs. For example, perhaps you reference customer research you found online that informed your design. Or, if you design your own portfolio website, you could conduct informal user research and testing.
And, don’t forget, the main goal of these little case studies is to show how you work and who you are as a designer, not always to show off the most impressive results.
Mistake #6: Not Making Your Contact Details Visible On Your Graphic Design Portfolio
If you take nothing else away from this article, make sure you remember this. Make your contact information prominent and visible. This is where many designers fall short.
It can be as simple as adding a contact form to your graphic design portfolio or adding small icons in the header or footer of your website’s design. It is also a good idea to include buttons for the various social media networking sites you are on, especially LinkedIn.
Exposure will be in your favor, so take advantage of these handy features.
A little tip: Before you add social networking sites, make sure you do not have any inappropriate images, videos, or posts that could deter potential employers or clients from hiring you.
Mistake #7: Not Making Your Graphic Design Portfolio Mobile-Responsive
Although the best way for someone to view your portfolio is on a large, high-resolution widescreen monitor, you can’t guarantee that people will view your portfolio site on a big screen. With the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, it’s likely that many people viewing your portfolio will do so on a mobile device.
To make your online portfolio stand out, you should ensure that it doesn’t change drastically in appearance or functionality on those screens. For a website to be truly mobile-friendly, its images must not shrink as they are viewed on smaller screens. To make your online portfolio accessible to the widest possible audience, it must be clear, readable, and responsive.
Before the Internet, designers walked around with printed copies of their portfolios and handed them out to anyone who was interested (and to anyone who wasn’t interested). While the printed portfolio still exists, the viewers of an online portfolio are much less limited.
Through the power of social media, a designer’s work can be shared around the world in less than a second. With the right approach, your portfolio could very well be the key to your success. So put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter or a potential client shifting through hundreds of possible candidates. Make it easy for them to stop, for just a moment longer, and take notice of your portfolio. This could be the deciding factor on whether you get that callback.
And please, don’t forget to update it regularly.